While a family vacation is about fun for every member of the family, sometimes that fun involves mom and dad enjoying some grown-up time together – be it a fancy dinner, going out dancing, or even just relaxing beach-side sans enfants. But that couple time can’t come at the expense of the safety of your children, so how to ensure the kids are well-cared for without spending all your spare time looking for a suitable vacation babysitter or child care?
Book hotels with kids’ clubs…
In my pre-parent days, I completely looked down my nose at those who dropped their children off at kids’ clubs. Memories of my Mexican honeymoon include noticing two very bored-looking kids and their equally bored-looking teenaged babysitter, making sandcastles almost every day. “Why bring the kids?” my (then) new husband and I would scoff as we snottily wondered which of the swim-up-barflies were the kids’ parents. Flash-forward to today, and both of my children are kids’ club aficionados who cry when we pick them up, rather than when we’re dropping them off. Crushed egos aside, we’re continually impressed with the resorts that make a real effort with their supervised children’s programming, and the fact that it’s often included in the hotel rates means it’s one less thing to budget for. There are a number of resorts with baby clubs in the Caribbean and Mexico, where guests as young as 12 weeks are looked after and well cared for while their parents take a break.
Use local resources…
Thanks to the internet, you can often peruse local classifieds and use local services without actually being local. Nanny agencies often pre-screen their applicants, so all you need to do is post your job and sort through the prospects. Hotel concierges will usually just refer you to local agencies or they may have a list of locals they know and trust. If your hotel books babysitting for you the prices may seem very high – or at least inflated – with restrictions on the number of children and hours booked. If you can cut out the middle man, you’ll usually save money – and be somewhat certain your caregiver is actually keeping the money she earns.
Also thanks to the internet, you can get creative in your search for a vacation babysitter. Send out a query on Facebook or Twitter – you may very well get a personal referral from someone in your network. After being quoted over $35 per hour for a sitter from her hotel, I found a client a local caregiver on St. Kitts, who charged much less, by searching through recommendations from someone renting their St. Kitts villa.
Every now and again I’ll come across an article touting the latest and greatest in vacation babysitting advice and options. Honestly, you’re not going to find your airline nanny via social media, and if you can afford to bring your nanny or teen-aged niece on vacation to look after your kids, chances are you’re not reading this article 🙂